Another NFL season has flown by. I can’t believe that we are actually entering the week of the Pro Bowl and eventually the Super Bowl. On the bright side, that means that we are at the beginning stages of draft season.
We have already seen prospects separate themselves during the pre-draft process in bowl games and post-season all-star competitions. Some others have already begun their training in preparation for the NFL Combine and their Pro Days. The NFL Combine is scheduled to begin on February 27 and conclude on March 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis).
Prior to that, there are plenty of important events, the biggest being the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, which concluded last Saturday.
With that being said, in this weeks edition of the “Reiding Between the Lines” scouting journal, there will be a East-West Shrine Game recap, a look ahead to the most intriguing storylines during the Senior Bowl and as always, we will finish with a six-pack of final thoughts from around the sports world.
East-West Shrine Game Recap
It was a fun filled week down in St. Petersburg, Florida for the annual East-West Shrine Game. The game included not nearly as many notable names as the Reese’s Senior Bowl, but it is considered the next step below. There are plenty of intriguing prospects that are competing in this contest, made up mostly of day-three and priority undrafted free agents.
Here are some names that have stood out during the week:
- EDGE — Kentavius Street — NC State
Lost in the hype and love fest of standout defensive end Bradley Chubb was Street. The Wolfpack defensive front as a whole is very talented and Street was arguably the second-best of the bunch. Street has constantly been labeled a freak in the weight room and as a competitor on the field. This week in practices, it has shown. He was relentless every day out on the practice fields and every offensive lineman that he was faced against struggled.
- EDGE — Ja’Von Rolland-Jones — Arkansas State
Despite getting better every year of his collegiate career, Rolland-Jones continued to somehow fly under the radar. His sack totals increased every season (42 career sacks) and his was a menace in the backfield during practice sessions.
He was constantly disruptive, showed good hips to bend the edge, and heavy hands against the run. He may be labeled as being a bit undersized at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, but he most likely is best suited as a 4-3 or 3-4 outside linebacker.
- DT — Poona Ford — Texas
Undersized is the first words that you always hear from scouts when referencing Ford, but he still continues to prove his critics wrong and standout amongst the competition. Measuring at 5-foot-11, 309 pounds, Ford will obviously not meet a lot of height thresholds for certain teams, but as far as effort, desire and technique, he’s the complete package. The former Longhorn will most likely be selected during the latter half of the NFL Draft, but he has a chance to be a solid depth piece immediately for the team that selects him.
- WR — Daurice Fountain — Northern Iowa
Every evaluator in St. Petersburg has raved about Fountain. If there’s one prospect who helped themselves the most during the week of practices and during the game it was Fountain. Measuring at 6-foot-1 and 1/2, 210 pounds, Fountain has impressive measurables at that stature.
Showing off his route-running abilities, wide catch radius, aggressiveness and vertical speed, Fountain may have boosted his stock from being a fringe undrafted free agent into potentially being a fifth or sixth-round pick. That’s how much he stood out from the competition. He has not yet been invited to the NFL Combine, but after his display during the week and winning the offensive MVP award in St. Petersburg, that probably will change soon.
- WR — DaeSean Hamilton —Penn State
One of the headliner names heading into the week of practices was the former Nittany Lion receiver. Hamilton surpassed the hype and more. He was a man amongst boys and a lot of his reps during the one-on-one, team and individual sessions left you mesmerized. Showing off his reliable hands, precise routes, and dangerous abilities after the catch. The duo of Hamilton and Fountain were easily the two best offensive players in St. Petersburg.
2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl Storylines
- Which QB will separate from the pack?
The quarterback group at this years Senior Bowl is an intriguing one. It is arguably the most star power and notable names within the group since 2016 when Carson Wentz participated in the event. This years group is spearheaded by Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and arguably the most polarizing prospect in this entire draft class in Wyoming’s Josh Allen.
Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph has already ruled himself out due to a left foot sprain that will not require surgery. The rest of the group includes Luke Falk (Washington State), Tanner Lee (Nebraska), Mike White (Western Kentucky), Brandon Silvers (Troy) Kurt Benkert (Virginia) and Kyle Lauletta (Richmond).
North Team (DEN) QBs:
South Team (HOU) QBs:
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 18, 2018
With Mayfield and Allen both on the North team, all eyes will be there during their practice sessions. Both signal-callers have a tremendous amount to gain from this experience. For Allen, it is a huge opportunity. There are praisers and critics about his draft stock, but one thing is consistent, he without question has the traits that NFL evaluators salivate over. With a very live arm and above average mechanics, he has a chance to build upon his current draft status.
Update: According to Sporting News columnist, Alex Marvez, Baker Mayfield will arrive on time for the Senior Bowl weigh-in today and participate in practices throughout the week, but he will not play in the game on Saturday.
- Which small school player will standout on the big stage?
The beautiful aspect about the Senior Bowl is that it not only invites the names that we’ve seen televised weekly, but it also brings the best players who haven’t had as much notoriety to the equation as well. There are a host of small school name player that I will be keep an eye on. Here are a few:
— LB/Darius Leonard — South Carolina State
One of the most decorated players in school history, Leonard hails from an institution that has previously produced former New York Giants great Harry Carson. A reigning two-time conference defensive player of the year, the former Bulldog linebacker comes into Mobile as one of the names not many are keying in on. That may soon change after scouts see his 6-foot-3, 230 pound frame and sideline-to-sideline range abilities. He’s a prospect that I have constantly compared to Jaguars star linebacker Telvin Smith.
— OT/Desmond Harrison — West Georgia
A prospect that has a traveled a long road to get to the point he’s currently in, Harrison originally started out as a junior college transfer to the University of Texas before ultimately landing at West Georgia. Since arriving there, he has been a consistent blindside protector for their offense. Easily outshining the competition he’s faced in his collegiate career, Harrison now has a chance to prove he belongs with the big boys.
Update: Harrison is nursing a knee injury and will weigh in and stay on Tuesday, but will leave after that. Missing out on the Senior Bowl is a huge missed opportunity for him as scouts heavily value his traits and wanted to see Harrison against better competition.
- Who will continue to build on their already rising draft stock?
— EDGE/Marcus Davenport — UTSA
There isn’t one prospect that has burst onto the scene and seen their stock rise quicker than UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport. His stature is the first trait that catches your eye. Listed at 6-foot-7, 245 pounds, the first thing that will be interesting to see is what exactly are his measurables. The weigh-in today will be big for him. Regardless, his body frame is impressive.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 16, 2018
The week of practices will be huge for him as well as many critics have said that they question the competition that he has faced. In Mobile, Davenport will be facing the best of the best and easily the highest competition he will have faced to this point in his career.
With 21.5 career sacks, evaluators understand that his strength is rushing the passer, but he’s only shown to mostly being able to do it from a two-point stance. Adjusting to a three-point stance and how he’s able to bend around the edge is something that I will be keying in on.
— OG/Isaiah Wynn — Georgia
Despite playing out of position due to injuries and that he was the best player available at that spot, Wynn put together a solid season as the Bulldogs left tackle. Smaller in stature at 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, Wynn is a candidate to slide inside to guard or center. Built like a refrigerator and possessing overbearing natural strength, his stock has climbed tremendously during the back stretch of the season.
His impressive showing in the College Football Playoff cemented his status as a day-two selection. After the Senior Bowl, it would not surprise me to see Wynn’s stock begin to creep into day one discussions.
— LB/Shaquem Griffin — Central Florida
Coming off the best season in school history and capped off by an impressive 34-27 victory in the Peach Bowl over Auburn, the Central Florida Knights are stocked with draft prospects. The most inspirational being linebacker Shaquem Griffin. Despite his physical limitation, he does not let that stop him from impacting games in a multitude of ways. Used pre-dominantly as an edge rusher, it will be interesting to see how Griffin competes and fares against the competition.
Pre-Senior Bowl Mock Draft
1. Cleveland Browns: QB/Sam Darnold — USC
Needs: QB, CB, RB
It is time for the Browns to find “their guy” at quarterback. Everyone knows the awful history of draft selections that they have made in years past, but with newly hired general manager John Dorsey already having a bunch of draft capital in his pocket, this is the year where he has to select the signal caller to stamp on his early tenure in Cleveland. There’s a long process to go, but with Josh Rosen’s recent comments, it most likely will scare the team away from drafting him, instead turning their attention to Darnold.
2. New York Giants: QB/Josh Rosen — UCLA
Needs: OT, QB, RB
What will they do with Eli Manning? Nobody really knows. Dave Gettleman has a big decision to make. Rumors have surfaced that they’re gearing up for a two-year run with Manning, but regardless they still should draft their quarterback of the future. Rosen gives them that. He has the personality, swagger, and overflowing confidence to handle the buzz saw that is the New York media on and off of the field. Adding Rosen to an offensive core of Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard is a great start for Gettleman.
3.Indianapolis Colts: EDGE/Bradley Chubb — NC State
Needs: OT, EDGE, ILB
Let’s be honest, this roster has arguably the most holes in the entire NFL. General manager Chris Ballard has an impressive track record in previous stops, but he has a long way to go to rebuild this roster. Chubb has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone though. NC State’s all-time leader in sacks could speed up the start to the second year of their complete roster rebuild.
4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU): RB/Saquon Barkley — Penn State
Needs: QB, CB, RB
With another pick in the top-5, Dorsey is all about adding talent no matter who it may be. This is a deep running back class, but with Isaiah Crowell all but certain to test the free agency waters and Duke Johnson not being an every down rusher, Saquon Barkley is that transcendent piece that Hue Jackson could potentially build his offense around going forward. Adding Darnold combined with Barkley makes the Browns offense considerably better than it was a season ago.
5. Denver Broncos: QB/Josh Allen — Wyoming
Needs: QB, OT, S
Clearly one of the worst QB situations of the 2017 season was the Broncos. Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler aren’t the answer. Josh Allen is one of the most polarizing prospects in this draft class.. After standing on the sideline during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, it’s clear that John Elway has interest in Allen. He checks all of the boxes of quarterback prospects that have interest them in years past.
6. New York Jets: QB/Baker Mayfield — Oklahoma
Needs: QB, OT, RB
Josh McCown had a surprisingly positive season for the team that many thought would be drafting No. 1 overall. He’s positioned himself to be the bridge gap quarterback for at least another season. Now it is time for Todd Bowles to find his signal-caller of the future. Heisman Trophy winning QB Baker Mayfield would be a perfect fit in New York. Possessing extreme moxy, on the field leadership, and talent, Mayfield could flip the future outlook for the Jets in a hurry.
7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S/Minkah Fitzpatrick — Alabama
Needs: EDGE, S, RB
After being a trendy favorite to make a huge leap in 2017, the Bucs faltered under heavy expectations. Tampa Bay could look to draft an edge rusher here, but a big reason for their failures last season was their leaky secondary, which battled injuries and some players just not living up to pre-season expectations. The T.J. Ward signing didn’t go as well as expected. Fitzpatrick improves the back end of their defense the moment he’s drafted, as he can play any position in the secondary.
8. Chicago Bears: WR/Calvin Ridley — Alabama
Needs: WR, CB, ILB
Ridley is the best receiver in this draft class. After not being able to showcase his talents consistently because of below average quarterback play, it was clear that when he did get his opportunities that he was exceptional. After what we saw in the 2017 draft, this may seem like a reach this early on, but the Bears desperately need talent on the perimeter for Trubisky. Newly hired head coach Matt Nagy seems adamant about surrounding his young thrower with multiple weapons.
9. San Francisco 49ers (*coin flip): OG/Quenton Nelson — Notre Dame
Needs: WR, OG, CB
The quick emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo during the latter half of the season has expedited the 49ers rebuild. They are now in position to take the best player available on their draft board. Why not draft immediate protection for your prized investment that you traded a second-round pick for? Quenton Nelson is as safe of a prospect as there is in this entire draft class. It would not surprise me at all if he is an All-Pro selection as a rookie. He also fits Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system perfectly.
10. Oakland Raiders (*coin flip): LB/Roquan Smith — Georgia
Needs: ILB, CB, OT
There’s plenty of buzz in Oakland now that the Raiders have successfully convinced Jon Gruden to exit the broadcast booth. His press conference left you wanting to run through a wall for him. The offense is filled with a plethora of talent in many areas, but their defense is another story. Outside of Khalil Mack, they have no true difference makers. Gruden will look for play-makers. Roquan Smith provides an identity and centerpiece for the silver and black defense that they desperately have been searching for. For Gruden, the former Georgia linebacker could prove to be a similar form of Derrick Brooks on that side of the ball.
11. Miami Dolphins: CB/Denzel Ward— Ohio State
Needs: OG, ILB, CB
The Dolphins need help at guard and edge rusher, but the value isn’t here at those spots. Another spot that they need help at is cornerback. Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersely are two young pieces that the team has added recently, but they both haven’t shown the developement that should make them hesitate from adding more pieces to their secondary. Denzel Ward gives them another young man-to-man corner, that has more upside that any other cover man currently on the roster.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: OT/Connor Williams — Texas
Needs: LB, OT, QB
The Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi experiments have been colossal failures. This team needs talent at multiple spots, but offensive line might be the biggest. After losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler to free agency, the team has failed to restock the deck at offensive line. Connor Williams would potentially provide added competition to Fisher and Ogbuehi. Marvin Lewis must find a way to protect Andy Dalton.
13. Green Bay Packers (*coin flip): CB/Josh Jackson — Iowa
Needs: EDGE, CB, TE
Clay Matthews will be 32 years old next season and entering the final year of a five-year, $66 million extension that he signed in 2014. With that being said, it is arguable that the Packers could look to draft an edge rusher here, but the value doesn’t seem to be there. They also need help in the secondary. Jackson provides them with another option to add alongside Kevin King and needed insurance for Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall in case their development doesn’t improve next season.
14. Washington Redskins (*coin flip): S/Derwin James — Florida State
Needs: LB, S, QB
The team potentially has a huge hole to fill if they do not franchise tag Kirk Cousins for the third consecutive season. At $34.5 million, tagging Cousins would be very costly, but we’re not at the point yet, so let’s assume that Cousins stays on the roster. Safeties D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson were surprise positives on the back end of the Redskins defense, but they still could get a higher end talent at those spots. Derwin James gives them an ultimate chess piece as a strong safety or as an extra linebacker in certain packages.
15.Arizona Cardinals: QB/Lamar Jackson — Louisville
Needs: QB, OT, C
It’s no secret that the Cardinals are starving for a quarterback. Entering 2018, with the recent retirement of Carson Palmer, there currently aren’t any on the roster under contract as Matt Barkley, Blaine Gabbert, and Drew Stanton are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. The roster has been on the downswing since the 49-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the 2016 NFC Championship game. What better way to give a jolt to that roster than to draft arguably the most electrifying prospect in this draft class.
16. Baltimore Ravens: WR/Courtland Sutton — SMU
Needs: WR, OG, ILB
The Breshad Perriman pick can be labeled as a failure. Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin are set to be free agents and the team has a clear need at receiver. Joe Flacco went through an entire season without having a go to target and it ended up being one of the biggest reasons why he had the worst statistical year of his career. Sutton provides Flacco with a big body target that has a wide catch radius.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: NT/Vita Vea — Washington
Needs: DT, ILB, QB
Starting nose tackle Brandon Mebane will be 32 years old at the start of the 2018 season, and entering the final season of his contract. The Chargers had the second worst run defense in the NFL last season. Inserting Vita Vea at the head of the Bolts 3-4 defensive front provides an instant improvement in both areas. Vea gives the franchise a youth alternative for life after Mebane and his specialty is defending the run where the team was among the worst in the entire league.
18. Seattle Seahawks: OT/Mike McGlinchey — Notre Dame
Needs: OT, RB, CB
The Seahawks have shaken up their entire coaching staff, firing offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable. Acquiring left tackle Duane Brown from the Texans was a step in the positive direction as to finding protection for their franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson. It still seems like a group that needs a lot of help though. They have to find a replacement for right tackle Germain Ifedi, who clearly was the weak link of the entire group. While very inconsistent against speedy edge rushers, Mike McGlinchey provides immediate competition for Ifedi and the hope would be that the former Notre Dame All-American can eventually overtakes Ifedi to become the starting right tackle.
19. Dallas Cowboys: DT/Maurice Hurst — Michigan
Needs: DT, WR, CB
Rod Marinelli is very well respected around the NFL and it is clear that he loves to draft and develop defensive lineman. Defensive end Taco Charlton experienced and up and down rookie year, but flashed more during the latter half of the season. David Irving and Maliek Collins are good pieces in the middle of their defense, but they seem to be lacking a true under tackle. Hurst is arguably the best interior defensive lineman in this class and has the potential to be a plug and play starter.
20. Detroit Lions: RB/Derrius Guice — LSU
Needs: EDGE, RB, OLB
Matt Patricia looks to be the favorite to land the head coaching job for the the Lions and we still don’t know who his offensive coordinator will be. Speculation though is that he would like to keep offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. One of the biggest questions that the team must address though is their lack of a running game. Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah are solid No. 2 rushers in a running back by committee rotation. The team needs a true bell-cow runner. Someone that Stafford can turn around and hand off to 20-plus times a game. Guice is without question a prospect that could fill that void. Inserting the former LSU rusher takes a lot of the heavy offensive load off of Stafford and the passing game.
21. Buffalo Bills: DT/Da’Ron Payne — Alabama
Needs: DT, LB, QB
One of the biggest surprises of the season was the success of first year head coach Sean McDermott and the Bills. After trading Ronald Darby, Marcell Dareus and Kelvin Benjamin, many wrote off the team and accused them of purposely tanking. A 10-3 loss in the Wild Card round to the Jaguars far exceeded many’s expectations for this team. With the future seeming to be somewhat bright, their biggest questions that they have to answer are at quarterback and at spots in the middle of their defense. Da’Ron Payne improves the interior of their defense and gives them a gritty, no nonsense prospect that matches the identity of the culture that McDermott is attempting to build upon.
22. Buffalo Bills (from KC): LB/Rashaan Evans — Alabama
Needs: DT, LB, QB
With consecutive picks, the Bills will obviously be looking to draft a quarterback, but with the top prospects that are first-round worthy all gone, picking one here would be a massive reach. They should continue to improve building upon the interior of their defense and draft Payne’s teammate in Rashaan Evans. After being at the center of Nick Saban’s national championship defense, Evans translates well to McDermott’s defensive scheme. He is a versatile linebacker that also can be used as an edge rusher.
23. Los Angeles Rams: CB/Isaiah Oliver — Colorado
Needs: CB, OG, EDGE
One of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season was the instant turnaround of the now Los Angeles Rams and first year head coach Sean McVay. The offense was a juggernaut throughout the season and rightfully so with so many additions prior to the season. Now it is time to focus their efforts on the defense. Locking up Aaron Donald seems to be a priority. The teams top three cover corners, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, and Nickell Robey-Coleman are set to become free agents. All three will cost a lot of money and it is unlikely that all will be re-signed. Set to lose someone, the team has to address cornerback. With great length, ball skills and tremendous upside, Oliver is an ideal fit and a solid value selection at this point in the draft.
24.Carolina Panthers: EDGE/Marcus Davenport — UTSA
Needs: EDGE, WR, CB
The Panthers could address receiver here, but spending multiple draft picks in 2017 on the offense and with Thomas Davis already coming out and saying that 2018 will be his final season, it is logical to think that they will put a heavy emphasis on improving their defense. Julius Peppers is set to be a free agent and Charles Johnson has troubles staying on the field, leaving Mario Addison as the teams only reliable edge rusher on the roster. Marcus Davenport is a high upside pick and he surely is a prospect that will rise up draft boards the closer we get to April. The former UTSA edge rusher is a perfect fit and is a pick that could pay dividends later on down the road.
25. Tennessee Titans: EDGE/Arden Key — LSU
Needs: EDGE, OG, S
The Titans made a surprising coaching change, firing head coach Mike Mularkey. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is believed to be the favorite. Whoever overtakes this job clearly understands that there are plenty of positive pieces on offense, but their defense needs upgrades and depth at multiple positions. There are lots of off the field questions surrounding Arden Key and that will most likely be some of the biggest reasons why he experiences a fall in the draft. The edge rushers talent is other worldly though and why he most likely will be a first-round selection. After a promising season that ended in a divisional round loss to the Patriots, the Titans still have to make significant improvements on their defense. Getting a value pick in Key gives them help on the edge that they need.
26. Atlanta Falcons: S/Ronnie Harrison — Alabama
Needs: OG, DT, S
The Falcons defense is filled with young stars on all three levels. Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal all seem to be franchise cornerstones for years to come, but Dan Quinn’s defense could use an upgrade at safety. Known to look for players that possess alpha mentalities and are tone setters, Ronnie Harrison fits that mold perfectly. Known as one of the vocal leaders on Alabama’s defense, pairing him on the roof of the defense alongside Neal potentially gives the Falcons one of the best young safety tandems in the entire league.
27. New Orleans Saints: DT/Taven Bryan — Florida
Needs: ILB, S, DT
A heartbreaking 29-24 loss to the Vikings ended the Saints season abruptly. Their offense is loaded and the 2017 draft class set the bar extremely high entering this off-season. Arguably one of the biggest risers throughout the early portion of draft season has been the former Gator interior defender, Known for his relentlessness and non-stop motor, pairing Bryan with 2016 first-round selection Sheldon Rankins makes a formidable tandem up the middle of Sean Payton’s defense.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB/Tremaine Edmunds — Virginia Tech
Needs: ILB, OT, S
Edmunds is a name that will continue to rise as his measurables are off the chart and his potential is through the roof. At 6-5, 250 pounds, he possesses rare size for an inside linebacker and is a prospect that can play multiple positions. After losing Ryan Shazier, it was evident that the Steelers lacked depth on the second level of their defense. Edmunds athleticism and quickness are traits that the team will highly covet.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: TE/Mark Andrews — Oklahoma
Needs: QB, TE, OG
Tom Coughlin has copied the blueprint that helped him winSuper Bowls with the New York Giants. Developing a suffocating defense and a dominant running game has made the Jaguars quarterback proof and they are on their well to playing in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. Blake Bortles has the team on a championship run and the team could definitely use an upgrade at quarterback, but another hole on the roster is at tight end. Mercedes Lewis and Ben Koyack are the two top tight ends on the roster. Andrews doesn’t provide much value as an in-line run blocker, but he is a big target in the passing game that could win from attached sets and out on the perimeter.
30. Minnesota Vikings: OG/C Billy Price — Ohio State
Needs: DT, OG, QB
From top to bottom, there aren’t a lot of weaknesses on the Vikings roster, but after a disappointing 38-7 loss in the NFC Championship game, it is evident that this team needs help in the trenches. They could opt to go for a defensive tackle at this spot, but with Joe Berger possibly retiring and Nick Easton being a restricted free agent, the team is extremely thin at the guard spot. Billy Price is a plug and play starter from the moment he hears his name called. Playing 36 career games at Ohio State with talented Minnesota center Pat Elflein gives this team even more reason to draft the Buckeye record holder in career games played (55). Strengthening the interior of their offensive line with Price at the back-end of the first night of the draft would be a home-run pick.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: OT/Orlando Brown — Oklahoma
Needs: OT, ILB, CB
With Jason Peters coming off knee surgery and having a $10.6 million cap hit in 2018, it would be wise for the Eagles to start preparing for life after Peters. Similar to Peters, Orlando Brown is a massive prospect. At 6-7, 345 pounds, Brown is best suited at right tackle, which allows the team to shift Lane Johnson to being their blindside protector for multiple years. Having Peters, Johnson and adding Brown to have as your bookends is very admirable for Philadelphia to protect Carson Wentz, who is coming off a knee injury of his own.
32. New England Patriots: EDGE/Harold Landry — Boston College
Needs: CB, EDGE, QB
The Patriots are in position to take the best player available on their board. They rarely ever have flashy names throughout the entire roster, but they have personnel that always has high belief in the scheme that they are placed in. Landry is a prospect that fits the Patriots way perfectly. Specializing as a pass rusher, pressure off of the edge is an area where the franchise could use more help at.
Six-Pack of Final Thoughts
1. NFL Championship Weekend Recap
- Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (Sunday, 3:05 pm ET)
The first game of the evening was plenty entertaining. Blake Bortles, the suffocating Jaguars defense, and ground and pound rushing attack dominated the Patriots through three quarters, but as always, the Patriots found a way to squeeze out a 24-20 victory. Scoring 10 points in the fourth-quarter just goes to show how great of a culture New England has created and sustained over the last decade. They are now headed to their second consecutive Super Bowl and fourth appearance in the last seven seasons.
- Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, 6:40 pm ET)
The shocker of champhionship Sunday happened on the NFC side where the Eagles completely dominated the Vikings in a 38-7 rout. After Minnesota scored a touchdown on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead, the Philadelphia defense seemed to wake up and not look back after that point. The biggest story of the game though was how well Nick Foles played. Coming into the game, the journeyman QBs stats had been well below average in his previous four contests, but when it counted the most, Foles stepped up to the occasion and delivered.
Finishing 26-of-33 for 352 yards and three touchdowns. With an incredible 141.4 passer rating, Foles had arguably one of the best playoff performances by a Eagles signal-caller in franchise history. Absolutely no one seen him performing this well in this magnitude of a game. He is one of the biggest reasons why the Eagles are headed to Super Bowl LII.
2. NBA All-Star Game Draft
NBA All Star Weekend is one of the highlights of the NBA season. It is the only occasion where fans get to see their favorite players grace the same court, performing outrageously difficult moves and display entertaining offensive explosions. One of the biggest tweaks Commissioner Adam Silver made to the All-Star game this season was implementing a draft of teams instead of the traditional East vs. West format.
A big mistake Silver made though was not televising the event. I think that is a huge missed opportunity for the NBA and its fans. No one is really sure why the event is not being televised, but it is something that the league should look into changing going forward.
3. Andrew McCutchen Traded to the San Franciso Giants
A trade that seemed to be sort of swept under the rug was the San Francisco Giants acquiring talented outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Playing in Pittsburgh his entire career, the trade was somewhat of a surprise. Entering the final year of his contract, it was a deal that some seen bound to happen, but it is a tough pill to swallow for Pittsburgh fans since he’s meant so much to that team and that city.
4. Zion Williamson Commits to Duke
In a surprise turn of evens, the No. 2 overall recruit in the country, Zion Williamson, committed to the Duke Blue Devils. Many experts and recruiting websites believed that Clemson was the heavy favorite because of Williamson’s strong ties and loyalty to the state of South Carolina. The bright lights of Duke and playing for Coach K was just to much to pass up.
For those that have not heard of Williamson, type his name into YouTube. His endless highlights reels and dunks are a pleasure to watch. Getting a commitment from Williamson means that the Blue Devils now have pledges from the top-3 recruits in the country.
5. Super Bowl LII
The stage is set and we finally have found out who the two teams are that will be participating in this years Super Bowl. It is a 2005 rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX between the Eagles and Patriots. Both No. 1 seeds facing off in the final game of the NFL season. Plenty of storylines leading up to the game and the Eagles are sure to be underdogs in this matchup. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are each chasing their sixth Super Bowl win, which is an incredible accomplishment in itself.
6. Senior Bowl Schedule (Central Time)
Tuesday, January 23
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm (South)
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm (North)
Wednesday, January 24
12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (North)
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (South)
Thursday, January 25
12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (North)
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (South)
Saturday, January 27
For more NFL Draft news and analysis, follow J.R. on Twitter @JReidDraftScout.